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May 23, 2017

Presidents Budget Would Shift Substantial Costs to States


and Cut Food Assistance for Millions
By Stacy Dean

President Trumps 2018 budget proposes to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
(SNAP, formerly food stamps) by more than $193 billion over the next ten years a more than 25
percent cut through a massive cost shift to states, cutting eligibility for millions of households,
and reducing benefits for hundreds of thousands more. The unemployed, the elderly, and low-
income working families with children would bear the brunt of the cuts.

Among other cuts to SNAP, the Presidents budget would:

Shift $116 billion in SNAP benefit costs to states. The Presidents budget would require
states to pay for 25 percent of SNAP benefits (starting at 10 percent in 2020 and increasing to
an average state share of 25 percent by 2023), a cost shift of approximately $116 billion over
ten years. (See Table 1.) Since its bipartisan origin, SNAP has operated as a national program
with benefits paid by the federal government a structure that was intended to address the
enormous disparity in hunger and poverty across states. Such a cost shift would have
significant consequences for states budgets. For example, in Texas, 25 percent of SNAP
spending (about $1.3 billion per year) is roughly equivalent to the states share of the annual
salary of 64,000 of the states teachers. In Pennsylvania, 25 percent of SNAP spending (about
$680 million per year) is more than twice what the state spends on community colleges.
Abandon the national commitment to provide low-income Americans a SNAP benefit
sufficient to afford a basic diet. SNAP benefits are now set federally and reflect the cost of
a bare-bones healthy diet. As a part of the cost shift to states, the Agriculture Department
would let states cut benefit levels as a cost management tool. This would mean that low-
income families, seniors, and people with disabilities would no longer be guaranteed access to
a basic diet regardless of where they live. Instead, states ability to contribute to the cost of
SNAP could drive the level of benefits available to poor households in that state. This is a
radical departure from SNAPs basic design, which has been proven to reduce hunger and
poverty.
The Administrations savings estimate of this proposal doesnt include any estimated impact
of states reducing SNAP benefits. Since states would feel pressure to cut benefits at some
point, this proposal would likely cut SNAP even further. Moreover, when the next recession
hits, SNAP wouldnt be able to expand automatically as it has in the past, as each additional

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dollar of SNAP necessary to meet the need of new applicants would require a state
contribution at a time when state budgets would be strapped.
Force states to time-limit food assistance to unemployed individuals who live in high-
unemployment areas. SNAP law already restricts benefits to three months out of every 36-
month period for individuals not raising minor children unless they are working 20 hours per
week. Though this provision is often called a work requirement, states are not obligated
(and most do not) to provide a work slot that would allow these individuals to meet the 20-
hour test. The individuals affected by this rule are extremely poor,1 with average monthly
income at 27 percent of the poverty line while on SNAP. States can waive the time limit for
areas that meet long-standing Labor Department standards for having persistently high
unemployment.2
The Presidents budget would restrict time limit waivers to areas with at least 10 percent
unemployment. In 2017, 36.4 percent of the country lives in the over 1,000 high-
unemployment counties as well as numerous cities and reservations that are waived from the
time limit.3 Under the budget, we estimate that only 54 counties of the areas currently waived
would qualify, representing just 1.3 percent of the country. The proposal would mean that 1
million poor unemployed individuals would no longer have access to food assistance in an
average month. The areas that would no longer qualify for waivers include high-
unemployment and economically hard hit areas such as southern Alaska, the Navajo Nation in
Arizona, parts of Californias Central Valley, and areas within Appalachia. Hundreds of
thousands of very poor unemployed individuals would lose food assistance after just three
months immediately if this provision were enacted, and the effects would swell during future
recessions. (See Table 2.)
Eliminate a state option that supports working families and addresses a benefit cliff.
SNAP includes a state option that allows states to raise SNAPs gross income eligibility cut-off
of 130 percent of the poverty line ($2,200 per month for a family of three) to a higher level.
Through this option, 31 states are providing modest food assistance benefits to working poor
families who are paying a relatively large share of their income in rent and/or child care and as
a result have too little left to afford a healthy diet. The Presidents budget would eliminate the
option, which provides food assistance to an estimated 1 million households in an average
month. (See Table 2.) Some 90 percent of this options benefits go to working households.
This option also permits states to ease the federal asset limit, thereby allowing households
with savings of more than the federal limit of $2,250 (or $3,250 for households with an elderly
or disabled member) to participate. More than 40 states have used this flexibility to remove

1
Steven Carlson, Dorothy Rosenbaum, and Brynne Keith-Jennings, Who Are the Low-Income Childless Adults Facing
the Loss of SNAP in 2016? Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), February 8, 2016,
http://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/who-are-the-low-income-childless-adults-facing-the-loss-of-snap-in-
2016.
2
Ed Bolen and Stacy Dean, Waivers Add Key State Flexibility to SNAPs Three-Month Time Limit, CBPP, March 24,
2017, http://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/waivers-add-key-state-flexibility-to-snaps-three-month-time-limit.
3
CBPP, States Have Requested Waivers from SNAPs Time Limit in High Unemployment Areas for the Past Two
Decades, http://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/states-have-requested-waivers-from-snaps-time-limit-in-
high-unemployment.

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the savings disincentive in SNAP and to eliminate the complexity and error the federal asset
limit causes.
Cutbenefits to the elderly and people with disabilities. The budget proposes to
terminate SNAPs minimum monthly benefit of $16 for households of one or two people,
which primarily goes to low-income seniors and people with disabilities who qualify for a
benefit of $15 or less. Almost 2 million people would lose SNAP benefits as a result of this
provision. (See Table 3.)
Penalize large families. SNAP benefits are scaled to reflect household size. Larger families
with the same income as a small family qualify for more benefits to help them meet their
greater food needs. The Presidents budget would cap additional benefits based on household
size at families of six, cutting benefits to many families with several children or who live with
grandparents and other family members. This proposal would cut approximately $180 million
in benefits each year to about 80,000 larger households. In effect, this proposal would
eliminate benefits to the 175,000 extra people who live in many households larger than six
people.

SNAP is a highly effective program targeted to households that need its help to meet their basic
food needs. With a small average benefit of just $1.40 per person per meal, it lifts millions out of
poverty, and it has demonstrated long-term benefits for children that participate, including better
health and education outcomes. While its overall enrollment and spending are coming down as the
economy improves,4 it provides vital assistance to over 40 million low-income Americans.

These proposed cuts to food benefits for low-income unemployed, seniors, and families with
children are in addition to another $2 trillion in proposed cuts to programs that help low- and
moderate-income households make ends meet and access needed health care. And, at the same time
it proposes these deep cuts to the safety net, the budget proposes massive tax cuts for the wealthy.
As CBPPs Bob Greenstein notes, this budget would make us a coarser nation, making life harder
for most of those struggling to get by but more luxurious for those at the very top.5

4
Dottie Rosenbaum, SNAP Caseloads and Spending Declines Track CBO Projections, CBPP, May 22, 2017,
http://www.cbpp.org/blog/snap-caseloads-and-spending-declines-track-cbo-projections.
5
Robert Greenstein, Greenstein: Trump Budget Proposes a Path to a New Gilded Age, CBPP, May 22, 2017,
http://www.cbpp.org/press/statements/greenstein-trump-budget-proposes-path-to-a-new-gilded-age.

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TABLE 1

President Trumps Proposed Budget Would Shift 25 Percent of SNAP Benefit Cost to
States
25 Percent of FY 2016 SNAP Benefit Cost States Required Contribution to
(in millions) SNAP over 10 years (in millions)1
The magnitude of the average annual state 10-year cut assumed in the
contribution that would be required once the Presidents budget for this provision
provision is fully in effect. Some states ($116 billion) allocated to each state
required contribution would be higher (and based on its share of 2016 SNAP
State/Territory others lower) based on a formula. benefits
Alabama $314 $2,186
Alaska $44 $306
Arizona $351 $2,442
Arkansas $144 $1,006
California $1,809 $12,607
Colorado $182 $1,268
Connecticut $171 $1,194
Delaware $55 $384
District of
$53 $367
Columbia
Florida $1,305 $9,093
Georgia $666 $4,639
Hawaii $121 $843
Idaho $64 $445
Illinois $760 $5,297
Indiana $267 $1,861
Iowa $127 $884
Kansas $86 $596
Kentucky $245 $1,709
Louisiana $387 $2,695
Maine $64 $444
Maryland $270 $1,880
Massachusetts $297 $2,072
Michigan $542 $3,776
Minnesota $151 $1,050
Mississippi $204 $1,419
Missouri $296 $2,061
Montana $42 $290
Nebraska $60 $419
Nevada $157 $1,097
New Hampshire $30 $210
New Jersey $306 $2,130
New Mexico $173 $1,208
New York $1,231 $8,574

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TABLE 1

President Trumps Proposed Budget Would Shift 25 Percent of SNAP Benefit Cost to
States
25 Percent of FY 2016 SNAP Benefit Cost States Required Contribution to
(in millions) SNAP over 10 years (in millions)1
The magnitude of the average annual state 10-year cut assumed in the
contribution that would be required once the Presidents budget for this provision
provision is fully in effect. Some states ($116 billion) allocated to each state
required contribution would be higher (and based on its share of 2016 SNAP
State/Territory others lower) based on a formula. benefits
North Carolina $562 $3,917
North Dakota $20 $137
Ohio $599 $4,173
Oklahoma $221 $1,543
Oregon $268 $1,869
Pennsylvania $682 $4,753
Rhode Island $68 $475
South Carolina $306 $2,129
South Dakota $36 $252
Tennessee $418 $2,913
Texas $1,327 $9,247
Utah $75 $526
Vermont $29 $203
Virginia $292 $2,037
Washington $363 $2,531
West Virginia $125 $869
Wisconsin $231 $1,607
Wyoming $12 $84
Guam $27 $185
Virgin Islands $14 $99
United States2 $16,649 $116,000
1To calculate the ten-year amount we allocated the cut attributable to this provision from the Presidents 2018 budget documents to each
state based on its share of 2016 SNAP benefits and added up the ten years.
2 Individual state totals may not add up to the U.S. total due to rounding.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture program data and Food and Nutrition Service, 2018 Explanatory Notes

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TABLE 2

State-by-State Impact of Presidents Budget Proposed SNAP Cuts:


Eliminating Expanded Categorical Eligibility and Time-Limit Waivers
Has the State Adopted the Expanded Does the State Have Waivers from the
Categorical Eligibility Option?1 Three-Month Time Limit?
State/Territory Asset Test Income Test
Alabama Yes
Alaska Yes
Arizona Yes Yes Yes
Arkansas
California Yes Yes Yes
Colorado Yes Yes
Connecticut Yes Yes Yes
Delaware Yes Yes
District of Columbia Yes Yes Yes
Florida Yes Yes
Georgia Yes Yes
Hawaii Yes Yes Yes
Idaho Yes Yes
Illinois Yes Yes Yes
Indiana
Iowa Yes Yes
Kansas
Kentucky Yes Yes
Louisiana Yes
Maine Yes Yes
Maryland Yes Yes Yes
Massachusetts Yes Yes Yes
Michigan Yes Yes Yes
Minnesota Yes Yes Yes
Mississippi Yes
Missouri
Montana Yes Yes Yes
Nebraska Yes
Nevada Yes Yes Yes
New Hampshire Yes Yes Yes
New Jersey Yes Yes Yes
New Mexico Yes Yes Yes
New York Yes Yes Yes
North Carolina Yes Yes
North Dakota Yes Yes Yes
Ohio Yes Yes

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TABLE 2

State-by-State Impact of Presidents Budget Proposed SNAP Cuts:


Eliminating Expanded Categorical Eligibility and Time-Limit Waivers
Has the State Adopted the Expanded Does the State Have Waivers from the
Categorical Eligibility Option?1 Three-Month Time Limit?
State/Territory Asset Test Income Test
Oklahoma Yes
Oregon Yes Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Yes Yes Yes
Rhode Island Yes Yes Yes
South Carolina Yes
South Dakota Yes
Tennessee Yes
Texas Yes Yes
Utah Yes
Vermont Yes Yes Yes
Virginia Yes
Washington Yes Yes Yes
West Virginia Yes Yes
Wisconsin Yes Yes
Wyoming
Guam Yes Yes Yes
Virgin Islands Yes Yes Yes
United States 42 31 36
1These states have adopted broad-based categorical eligibility. Additional states have narrow categorical eligibility (beyond cash
assistance, but not affecting large numbers of households) and may also have some households that would be cut off SNAP.
Source: USDA, Food and Nutrition Service, Broad-based Categorical Eligibility Chart, and private correspondence, see
https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/snap/BBCE.pdf and https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/able-bodied-adults-without-
dependents-abawds

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TABLE 3

State-by-State Impact of Presidents Budget Proposed SNAP Cuts:


Eliminating the Minimum Benefit
Number Receiving Annual SNAP Cut based on
Minimum Benefit in 2015 Minimum Benefit in 2015
State/Territory Households Individuals
Alabama 25,000 27,000 -$4,265,000
Alaska 4,000 4,000 -$764,000
Arizona 32,000 43,000 -$5,625,000
Arkansas 17,000 17,000 -$2,717,000
California 79,000 110,000 -$14,484,000
Colorado 13,000 15,000 -$1,930,000
Connecticut 12,000 15,000 -$2,054,000
Delaware 6,000 8,000 -$1,141,000
District of Columbia 9,000 10,000 -$1,577,000
Florida 114,000 139,000 -$18,629,000
Georgia 58,000 67,000 -$10,367,000
Hawaii1 1,000 1,000 -$335,000
Idaho 5,000 5,000 -$767,000
Illinois 71,000 81,000 -$12,400,000
Indiana 24,000 26,000 -$3,794,000
Iowa 23,000 27,000 -$3,958,000
Kansas 8,000 10,000 -$1,317,000
Kentucky 22,000 23,000 -$3,641,000
Louisiana 17,000 19,000 -$3,018,000
Maine 11,000 14,000 -$2,029,000
Maryland 40,000 51,000 -$7,039,000
Massachusetts 32,000 42,000 -$5,635,000
Michigan 75,000 89,000 -$11,491,000
Minnesota 28,000 33,000 -$5,141,000
Mississippi 14,000 16,000 -$2,517,000
Missouri 22,000 26,000 -$3,637,000
Montana 4,000 4,000 -$636,000
Nebraska 7,000 7,000 -$1,023,000
Nevada 23,000 29,000 -$4,222,000
New Hampshire 5,000 6,000 -$773,000
New Jersey 44,000 51,000 -$7,253,000
New Mexico 11,000 12,000 -$1,962,000
New York 79,000 97,000 -$13,996,000
North Carolina 106,000 136,000 -$19,120,000
North Dakota1 2,000 2,000 -$278,000
Ohio 77,000 92,000 -$13,300,000

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TABLE 3

State-by-State Impact of Presidents Budget Proposed SNAP Cuts:


Eliminating the Minimum Benefit
Number Receiving Annual SNAP Cut based on
Minimum Benefit in 2015 Minimum Benefit in 2015
State/Territory Households Individuals
Oklahoma 23,000 25,000 -$3,476,000
Oregon 47,000 57,000 -$8,727,000
Pennsylvania 64,000 75,000 -$11,217,000
Rhode Island 6,000 7,000 -$1,022,000
South Carolina 28,000 30,000 -$4,980,000
South Dakota1 2,000 2,000 -$267,000
Tennessee 42,000 45,000 -$6,826,000
Texas 100,000 121,000 -$16,338,000
Utah 5,000 6,000 -$788,000
Vermont 3,000 3,000 -$459,000
Virginia 28,000 31,000 -$4,359,000
Washington 48,000 54,000 -$8,548,000
West Virginia 19,000 24,000 -$3,178,000
Wisconsin 73,000 91,000 -$13,573,000
Wyoming1 1,000 1,000 -$136,000
Guam1 Less than Less than
-$65,000
1,000 1,000
Virgin Islands1 Less than
1,000 -$110,000
1,000
United States2 1,610,000 1,931,000 -$276,905,000
1In these states and territories, the sample sizes of households with the minimum benefit are small and are not intended as precise
estimates.
2 Individual state totals may not add up to the U.S. total due to rounding.
Source: CBPP analysis of 2015 SNAP Household Characteristics data.